Smoking Loon Malbec 2013

I am madly attempting to catch up on my movie and TV watching because we are right in the midst of the awards season.  I’m using the SAG Awards nominations as my bucket list.  One of the shows I hadn’t watched on HBO until recently – despite having a subscription – was Westworld.

I saw the old movie with Yul Brynner on TV when I was a kid.  For some reason it just didn’t tickle my fancy.  I’m not saying it was a bad movie, it just wasn’t what interested me at the time.  Thus, I think that memory kept me from clicking over for HBO’s treatment.

Then one of my colleagues was singing it’s praises at work – the new series, I mean.  He just couldn’t say enough good things about it.  While he didn’t know it was a remake (He’d never even heard of the movie or of Yul Brynner.), he did recommend the series highly.  And then, of course, it made the SAG Awards nominations.

Good grief!  What had I been waiting for?  I am really quite impressed with the new series.  It is an entertaining show!  Be aware, though.  It’s definitely not for young viewers or those who shy away from shoot-em-ups on the screen.

And, yes, I decided to enjoy a glass or two of vino as I began my exploration of the new Westworld series.  I suppose I could have gone more Westworld and had a few shots of whiskey, but that wasn’t what I had handy.

oenophilogical_smokingloonmalbec2013Winemaker:  Smoking Loon
Varietal:  Malbec
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Valle Central, Chile
Price:  $8.99

Notes:  A very dark purple color, this loon exhibited lots of earth, menthol, pine and forest berries in it’s bouquet.  Medium-bodied with nice acidity, the tannins were what I’d call medium.  Flavors I detected included blackberry/mulberry, tobacco, some hints of spice and a touch of mint.

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Christmas Day Dinner Surprise

Continuing our staycation holidays, we awoke on Xmas morning ready to continue our celebrations.  Normally we have oatmeal for breakfast – I mean almost every single morning.  But this time we splurged on a full “American” breakfast with bacon, eggs, whole wheat toast, OJ, and coffee.  Afterward, we went out for a nice long walk because our bodies just weren’t accustomed to all of that … goodness.  It was pleasant out – brisk but not cold – so we ended up making it an unanticipated four miler.  It wasn’t just the weather that kept us walking.  All the holiday lights and decorations were up and on while the streets and sidewalks were almost deserted.  Peaceful and cheerful is how I would describe the overall ambiance.

oenophilogical_xmas2016We had once again decided on an early dinner with the following as our menu.  Leafy green salad, cauliflower au gratin, cranberry sauce, roast beef, Yorkshire pudding.  The cranberry sauce and cauliflower had been made ahead (the day before).  Leafy green salad?  Just some chopping and dicing to be done.  The “new” dish for us – despite both of us having familial ties (however distant) to the British Isles – was the Yorkshire pudding.  We had a recipe but had never even tasted a Yorkshire pudding much less made one.  Those who have made this dish before will tell you that the key to the creation of the dish is the drippings from the roast beast.

Imagine my surprise when my sweetie unwrapped a beautiful, almost no-fat tenderloin of beef to put in the oven.  Tenderloin of beef is a beautiful cut of meat.  It was a very nice surprise on the one hand.  On the other hand, it’s lack of fat meant a lack of drippings.  No drippings, no Yorkshire pudding!  What to do, what to do, what to do?!

oenophilogical_yorkshirepuddingI told you in a prior post that we – especially me – are follow-the-recipe cooks.  But I didn’t want to just give up, so I hit the internet.  I read many articles and posts about Yorkshire pudding and substitutions.  I owe a debt of gratitude to fellow bloggers out there sharing their own experiences with Yorkshire pudding.  They gave me a solution.  Remember our big fatty American breakfast?  We had put the bacon fat into a container to be discarded, but it was still waiting in the fridge.  Hallelujah!

This time we got the meal on the table in a timely manner and enjoyed a Tempranillo from Spain with our Xmas dinner.  It was a very tasty meal, if I do say so myself.

Winemaker:  Manyana
Varietal:  Tempranillo
Vintage:  2015
Appellation:  Cariñena DO, Spain
Price:  $7.99

Notes:  Made by Bodegas San Valero, this was a dark burgundy-colored wine with a bouquet of berries, pine and a hint of mint.  I thought tannins were mild and body was medium.  Flavors I found included very ebullient berries (settling a bit with more oxidation), a touch of wood, some green herbal notes, and a nice finish that seemed to vacillate on my palate between ripe plum and prune.

Barefoot Zinfandel

Among the selections I bought to have handy for holiday celebrations, I grabbed a bottle of this very inexpensive red.  It was on sale at my local grocery.  I’ve had a number of other selections by Barefoot cellars.  Originally started by two folks with no wine industry experience, this brand (now under the auspices of E&J Gallo) has reportedly become the largest wine brand in the world.

oenophilogical_barefootzinfandelWinemaker:  Barefoot
Varietal:  Zinfandel
Vintage:  NV
Appellation:  Lodi, California
Price:  $5.99

Notes:  It had a dark red color and scents of sous bois, berries and dirt.  Acidity was pretty good and alcohol was at 13.5%.  Flavors I found in this medium-bodied Zin were blackberry, moss, blueberry, and a touch of pepper.  Tannins were very light.  Decent for the price.  Could have done with more structure, especially given the tease of a Lodi appellation.

 

Alexander & Fitch Merlot 2013

Here’s an interesting fact: according to Wikipedia -and who doesn’t rely on Wikipedia these days – Merlot is the third most-grown grape varietal globally.  Take that! Miles Raymond (from the movie Sideways).

Winemaker:  Alexander & Fitch
Varietal:  Merlot
Vintage:  2013
Appellation:  Alexander Valley, Sonoma County, CA
Price:  $6.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  Dark burgundy in the glass, this A&F Merlot exhibited earth, moss and berries in the bouquet.  Medium-bodied and with good acidity, it has what I would call “medium-ish” tannins.  Flavors I detected included earth, vanilla, balsamic vinegar (without the vinegar), cherries, and bitters.  Another solid performer from the inexpensive selections at Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joe’s Grower’s Reserve Merlot 2014

I picked this Merlot up on a very recent visit to my neighborhood Trader Joe’s.  Sometimes …

Other times “whatcha see” is an illusion, and what lies in store can be either a horrible shock or a pleasant surprise.  Personally, I like pleasant surprises, and this wine turned out to be one of those.

Winemaker:  Trader Joe’s
Wine:  Grower’s Reserve Merlot
Varietal:  Merlot
Vintage:  2014
Appellation:  California
Price:  $4.99 at Trader Joe’s

Notes:  A medium-bodied red with good acidity and medium-plus tannins, this inexpensive Merlot had a definite purplish hue which brought to mind big, juicy, ripe plums.  My eyes, however, deceived me.  What I found in the bouquet was a mix of cedar, earth and barnyard with sweet floral notes.  On the tongue it had an almost chalky texture with cola, blackberry, and tea leaf along with some sweet cherry that blossomed after oxidation.  Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a sweet wine: alcohol is at 13.2%.  Anyway, I liked it.  It’s cheap, and it’s competent – even interesting – as inexpensive wines go.  House red for me?  It’s a possibility.

Lindeman’s Shiraz 2015

With a name like Lindeman, I though for sure the founder of this winery would be from continental Europe – Germany, Holland, Switzerland, etc.  Not so!  Turns out Dr. Henry Lindeman was from jolly old England.  He did get his interest in winemaking from travels on the continent.  But then in the 1840s (at the age of 32, if my math is correct) he packed up and moved to Australia’s Hunter Valley where he planted grapes on a property he called Cawarra.  Interestingly enough, all did not go smoothly for him.  The winery tells us in their online history that Cawarra was burned by an arsonist in 1850.  Even so, Dr. Lindeman was determined in his love of wine and winemaking.  After the fire, he worked for three years as a doctor in nearby gold mines to save up enough money to restart and rebuild the vineyard.  Which he did!

Oenophilogical_LindemansShiraz2015Winemaker:  Lindeman’s
Wine:  Bin 50
Varietal:  Shiraz
Vintage:  2015
Appellation:  South Eastern Australia
Price:  $5.00

Notes:  The bouquet or nose on this Shiraz was unexpectedly faint with light scents of pine, berries and spice.  Contrary to it’s bouquet, the color was a deep, dark burgundy.  It had decent acidity and gentle tannins with a medium heft on the tongue.  Speaking of the tongue, flavors I found included dark fruit, pine, paint thinner, some tar and ash.  Although lacking structure, here is a cheap red that isn’t the quintessential fruit punch in a bottle.  It needs time to breathe.  So, go ahead and decant it 15 minutes to half an hour before you plan on serving it.  With oxidation, the ash, tar and especially paint thinner recede some, allowing the dark plum and currant to share the spotlight.  Not a fancy or subtle wine, this seems a good candidate to serve with a casual meat dish such as flank steak or even a burger.

Readin’, (Wine) ‘Ritin’, & ‘Rithmatic

mwwc-badge1Just a quick post to remind folks that voting for the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge #27 (#MWWC27) has commenced.  We have till Monday the 19th to get our votes in.

For those who may have missed it, my entry into this month’s challenge is at Inside Out, Upside Down.  If you haven’t read it yet, please do so.  And then PLEASE vote for ME.  The theme of this month’s challenge is bubbles.  I chose to write a piece (Chapter 1 of a story) focusing on a specific type of bubbles – speech bubbles. icon_bubble

To vote, click on over to the Monthly Wine Writing Challenge blog and following the instructions for the MWWC #27 voting process.

Thanks in advance.  Many happy writings and winings [yes, I know it isn’t a real word] to everyone!